Domaine de la Roche Paradis Northern Rhône, France.
Yann Menager is the owner and winemaker for this small new domaine based in Saint-Joseph just south of Condrieu. He has been the vineyard manager for Yves Cuilleron for the last 15 years and right now still works most days in that role. Using his knowledge of the great vineyard sites in the northern Rhône though, Yann has purchased some superbly sited vineyards over the last few years to start producing his own wines. To date he has acquired holdings of 6.5ha in Saint-Joseph, Condrieu and Côte Rôtie. His goal is to make the wines as simply as possible, with minimum intervention and a focus on purity. To that end he aims to keep his production small, with just a few barrels of each wine produced each year.
His winery is located high above the vineyards of Saint Joseph on his family's farm in the tiny hamlet of Champailler at 798m elevation, below the aptly named Roche Paradis. Picking is done by hand, yields are kept low at around 35 hl/ha or less and all wines undergo natural (native yeast) ferment and natural malolactic conversion. The result is a range of wines that show superb energy and balance, with a freshness and finesse that harks back to a day before super-extraction and lots of new oak became de-rigueur in the Northern Rhône.
WINE NOTES AND REVIEWS
2016 Condrieu Veauvignière Produced from vines planted 1990 in a small south facing amphitheatre near Malleval right beside the famous Lys de Volan site (Guigal recently bought half of Lys de Volan). The soil here is mica-schist (the same as Chateau Grillet) which imparts wonderful freshness and texture to the wine. Matured for 8 months in older barriques this wine shows the fresher and more mineral style of Condrieu. Only 1800 bottles produced.
'Intense, with creamed peach, nectarine and apricot flavors that are pure and focused, enlivened by flashes of verbena, fennel and mirabelle plum. Drink now through 2020.' 94 points, James Molesworth, Wine Spectator, February 2018.
2016 Saint-Joseph Les Vessettes A field blend, produced from 60% Marsanne (64 year old vines) and 40% Roussanne (young vines) planted in granitic soil at Les Vessettes on the slope above the town of Chavanay. Fermented with natural yeasts in barrique with no battonage and bottled after malo to retain the freshness imparted by the granite soils. Only 1600 bottles produced.
2016 Saint-Joseph Bergerie 100% Syrah from 15 year old vines also from the lieu-dit of Les Vessettes on granite above the town of Chavanay. The wine was fermented with about 20% whole bunches to produce an elegant floral style of Syrah. Matured in older barriques for 12 months before bottling without fining or filtration. Only 2000 bottles produced.
2016 Saint-Joseph La Madonne La Madonne is a small but spectacularly steep granite vineyard right beside the medieval village of Malleval. Facing due south the vines here are 65 years old and yield an impressively concentrated yet mineral and very detailed Syrah. The wine was fermented with about 50% whole bunches and then matured for 12 months in older barriques. More fragrant yet also richer and denser than the Bergerie, it finishes long with seductive velvety tannins and that trademark freshness and finesse. Only 1700 bottles produced.
2016 Côte Rôtie Rozier Made from 100% Syrah in the lieu-dit of Rozier (Côte Brune) with a perfect south-west exposition from 20 year-old vines. The wine was fermented with about 20% whole bunches and then matured for 13 months in 1, 2 and 3 year-old barriques. A very fresh and aromatic style of Côte Rôtie from soils of schist and brown, iron oxide-rich clay on this superb site. How great Côte Rôtie used to be, elegant and perfumed, with lovely mid-palate volume and a long complex finish, framed by fine silky tannins and refreshing acidity. Only 1450 bottles produced.